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Angelo Branduardi - Il Ladro CD (album) cover


Angelo Branduardi

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars In this period Branduardi seem to be tired of being Branduardi. After the quite poor "Pane E Rose" also in this album we can find things apparently extraneous to his musical background.

"Il Ladro" (The Thief) seems written, arranged and played by Ry Cooder. It's a country-blues very slow and dark on which his voice sounds inadequate and innatural.

Then we have "Madame", a tango featuring a concertina in a perfect Astor Piazzolla style. Not bad.

"Bella Faccia" (Nice Face) is closer to his usual things, but has a very pop-folk feeling, including the trumpet solo.

"Uomini di Passaggio" (Passing by Men) is another song between south and north America. Concertina from Argentina and bass and chorus from Mexico. Piazzolla meets "Cielito Lindo".

"Ballerina" (Dancer) is finally a true Branduardi's song, at least he sings on his usual chords while the guitar is still bluesy. It's significant that his old time guitarist Maurizio Fabrizio is no longer working with him. The PFM Franco Mussida is the guy at the guitars, but they don't match a lot, IMO.

"Amazzonia" (Amazonas) starts with some guitar chords similar to David Gilmour's Mihalis, then the guitar is replaced by percussions and voice, then the guitar again...This song is not bad, dreamy and light.

"Il Bambino Dei Topi" (Child of the Rats) starts musically as a follow-up to the previous song but the chords are more usual. What concerns me is that the arrangements are POP even when the songs aren't. It's like Angelo was tired of making arrangements and has left this work to his label.

"Il Tempo Di Partire" (Time To Leave) brings us back to Arizona and the Death Valley. What has Branduardi to do with this environment? Why does Mussida play like Bonnie Raitt?

"Il Grido" (The Scream) turns south again. Argentina guys..

Finally a classical Branduardi song: "Ai Confini dell'Asia" (To the borders of Asia) is an excellent song, dreamy and ethereal. Let your mind fly over the himalayan heights. Well, the drums play Pat Metheny's Last Train Home but the song is really good.

"Festa" (Celebration) was similar to the previous song in Angelo's original intentions, but falls into the Italian pop of its period. A bit boring, too.

A couple of good moments aren't enough for the 3rd star, even if this album is far better than its predecessor. Surely not the best album to start with Branduardi even though the "Asian borders" would deserve to be included in a compilation.

Report this review (#529127)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Listening to the title track the first thing that comes to mind is...: "Branduardi's got the BLUES" - and, once you've grown familiar with the whole album, which is another strange but a more cohesive and relaxed one than "Pane e Rose", you somehow ought to agree with John Lee Hooker: "The blues is the healer".

With this one the "Italian Minstrel" finally discovers ( embraces ) America in a pleasant way. More Latin-rhythms featuring Richard Galliano's awesome Bandoneon-playing, combined with Blues, Country and Jazz-Flavors, possibly as far as the songwriter could go from the once familiar, medieval sounds. Maurizio Fabrizio was absent, so the great classical guitar-playing of the two is absent as well, but the guitars ( Barnduardi and Franco Mussida ) are still very good - especially for a blues-infected album. "Il Ladro" ( = "The Thief" ) pairs Branduardi's singer/songwriter-approach with a strong American ( north & south ) flavour - surely not what you expect of him if you think of his most successful albums.

But it's making more sense this time than all the experiments on "Pane e Rose" - Branduardi probably felt better cause he sounds more confident and inspired, and somehow you can still distinctively hear that it's him, especially in "Ballerina" and "Amazzonia", where he's quoting the guitar-lines of "La Canzone del Deserto" - turning the original idea into a more contemporary and soaring track... ( where the Bandoneon gets used like a harmonica ! ), one of the best here, as is "Il tempo di partire", where the Blues from the opening track returns, with jazzy trumpet. Branduardi's voice sounds better, too - though a bit brittle still ( especially on "Ballerina" ). The dreamy ballad "Ai Confini dell' Asia" may be closest Branduardi got to his previous work here, but the arrangement and mix ( the bass-guitar comes in upfront at 3'23'' - you've got to get used to this, cause it's really LOUD ) are more of the meditative world-music-field.

The most outstanding tracks on this album for sure are those that feature Galliano's bandoneon in affective measure, be it for building a perfect amalgam with the rhythm-section's clever work, namely in "Madame" and "Il Grido", or be it the melancholic cream-top in a bar-jazz-march like "Uomi di Passaggio", which is a strange hybrid all the way, feels like a sailor's lamento from a Brecht/Weill-musical ( actually, the lyrics are thoughts on vagabonds/clochards and homeless people striving through town, asking questions about their lives and feelings from the view of a passer-by... ).

There's not a bad track on the album, but it's more a testament of Branduardi's search for new influences in order to evolve as an artist than it is a real must-have for anyone but his fans, and progressive... well, for the artist himself it surely was a huge progression and an interesting step on his way, but honestly, with the exceptions of "Madame", "Amazzonia" and "Il Grido", it couldn't keep track with his best work, so, although slightly better than "Pane e Rose", I can't give it a better rating than 3 stars on this site... but it's too good for a lesser rating. And it feels good, cause "the blues is the healer" indeed.

Report this review (#634873)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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